Christine Wiegand, director of Michigan City’s Footlight Players production of “Mass Appeal,” hopes viewers of the acclaimed philosophical drama leave with new perspectives on life based on the dialogue between the shows’ two opposing priests.
“We each have something to teach each other,” she said. “I’m a librarian and come from a background where I’m constantly helping people learn things, and to hear people be close-minded really makes me sad. I’m always willing to learn new things and hope the audience walks away thinking ‘I never thought about it from that viewpoint before.’”
Opening today and running through Feb. 10 at Footlight Theatre, “Appeal” is the tale of Father Tim Farley, a long-loved Catholic minister, who is challenged philosophically and personally by a young, up-and-coming deacon Mark Dolson.
Penned by American playwright Bill Davis, “Appeal” made its debut off-Broadway in 1980 before making it to the Great White Way a little more than a year later. It was nominated for a pair of Tony Awards, most notably Best Direction, and a trio of Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding New Play.
“Appeal” was also adapted for the big screen in 1984, starring Jack Lemmon as Farley. The script used for Footlight’s presentation is a modern-day adaptation of Davis’ original work.
“Growing up Catholic, there are things that the two priests discuss that are intriguing to me,” Weigand said. “The older priest is very much oriented to keeping things the way things are, and the parish loves him. The younger priest comes in and talks about giving, and is more of an extreme person. He’s coming from more of a monk’s viewpoint, so you’re getting these different viewpoints within the same religion.”
Robert W. Komendera portrays Farley and Christopher J. Whybrew is Dolson in Footlight Players’ production of “Appeal.” Both actors hail from Michigan City.
Next up for Footlight Players s a production of the Tennessee Williams-penned classic “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” scheduled to open April 5.